Controversial MP Cory Bernardi has returned to the political fray to make common cause with broadcaster Alan Jones, claiming right-wing figures are victims of double standards from the media.
Bernardi, who was hounded from his role as Tony Abbott’s parliamentary secretary last month after linking gay marriage to bestiality, has styled himself as a defender of free speech and quality public debate in an address posted to his personal YouTube channel yesterday.
“As we’ve seen over the last few weeks, if you’re from the left side of politics it appears you can say almost anything without condemnation, but this rule does not seem to apply from those on the right,” Bernardi declared.
“Labor ministers have attacked me, they’ve attacked my colleagues past and present, they’ve twisted and distorted arguments and words in a quest to gain some minute political advantage, heedless of the damage they’re doing to the standards of public debate, and the concept of free speech.”
Bernardi has said little to the media after the bestiality scandal broke, and had not previously defended his comments (or himself) in any detail after he stood down on September 19. (He flew to the UK afterwards to address a young conservatives’ conference, but cancelled his speech at the last minute.)
The right-faction South Australian senator grinned and appeared tanned and relaxed as he fronted the Australian flag in the latest YouTube address. The motto of his YouTube channel is “common sense lives here”.
Bernardi did not mention Jones — under fire for claiming Julia Gillard’s father “died of shame” at her political lies — by name, but began his broadcast by referring to an opinion piece by Liberal colleague Greg Hunt, in which Hunt criticised Jones’ comments but accused the left of making similarly inappropriate comments and therefore being hypocritical.
In an endorsement possibly not entirely welcome to Hunt, Bernardi embraced the article’s theme: “The Labor party and their acolytes hold others to a different standard than they’re prepared to account for themselves. This is a circumstances that needs to change on behalf of every Australian interested in supporting our freedoms and our democratic ideals.”
Bernardi hit out at “abusive and hateful” comments made against figures on the right. His definition of “abusive and hateful” does not appear to encompass his comments to the Senate last month during a debate on gay marriage:
“The next step … is having three people that love each other be able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society, or four people. There are even some creepy people out there who say that it’s OK to have consensual s-xual relations between humans and animals. Will that be a future step? In the future, will we say, `These two creatures love each other and maybe they should be able to be joined in a union?’.”
Jones has been widely criticised for his remarks about the Prime Minister’s father; it remains to be seen whether Bernardi’s support is of assistance to the outspoken broadcaster as he seeks to rehabilitate himself with the public and with advertisers.